An interesting snippet of information came from a recent appearance by writer-director Colin Trevorrow on the Happy Sad Confused Podcast – and it concerns the level of collaboration that exists between directors of the core Star Wars films.
Trevorrow is tasked with helming Star Wars: Episode IX, which is due to arrive in theatres in 2019. The podcast host asked him if he’d requested any additions to Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi to better set up his own franchise instalment – and apparently, he did.
“There was one little thing. It wasn’t an adjustment, it was just ‘Could you shoot this one extra thing while you’re in this place on this day?’ And he did, which was great.
“It’s part of the collaborative process that exists – everyone is in communication. There’s such a genuine want to get this right from everybody, and I think that one of the misconceptions is that there’s some kind of great corporate overlord that is dictating this story to everybody, and that’s what it’s going to be because that’s going to sell the most toys.”
This is interesting because, when read in conjunction with reports that J.J Abrams did similar for Rian Johnson while making Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it builds a picture of a high level of cohesion between story chapters, with an emphasis on forward planning. Trevorrow expanded upon this idea by explaining that he watched The Force Awakens as a regular audience member, but that he will be unable to do the same with The Last Jedi.
“Unfortunately, [The Last Jedi director] Rian’s [Johnson] film is the first one I won’t be able to watch as an audience member. I got that privilege with The Force Awakens. I just got to go see it with a Star Wars fan. I got to sit next to my kid and just giggle as we read the crawl because we were so excited.”
“Rogue One was the same way. I didn’t see it in advance. That time is over now. Star Wars is no longer that experience for me.”
This, combined with the fact that he’s versed in the detail of The Last Jedi enough to request an additional shot, is the clearest indication of the close level of collaboration between the Star Wars directors, with each successive movie. Whether the same kind of collaboration exists with those making Star Wars Anthology films is a different question – and one that’s worth asking in light of the recent turmoil surrounding the Han Solo movie.
Trevorrow’s assertion that there is no “corporate overlord dictating the story” also goes some way toward counteracting the public narrative that sprang up around the firing of Han Solo directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Indeed, his comments imply that the combined storytelling vision of filmmakers remains at the heart of the Star Wars saga. We’ll find out if that approach is effective when Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives in theatres later this year.